This week a Ukrainian team of “white” hackers, called dcua from Igor Sikorsky Kyiv Polytechnic Institute (KPI), was recognized as the best team in the area of cybersecurity among more than 12 thousand teams from all over the world according to CTF (Capture the flag) in 2016.
This news was not a surprise for us because for more than a year now the InformNapalm team has been cooperating with Ukrainian Cyber Alliance (UCA) which includes hackers from the Ukrainian teams Trinity, FalconsFlame, KiberHunta (Cyber Hunta), and Ruh8. This year UCA executed many successful hacking operations to counter-attack the Russian propaganda (additional information, as well as the analysis of all these operations, can be found on our website using hashtag #UCA). The most successful among them was a hacking of the office of Vladislav Surkov, Assistant to the President of Russia that got a code name of #SurkovLeaks.
The result of this operation was a resignation of Aleksandr Pavlov, Manager of the Office of the Assistant to the Russian President Vladislav Surkov, which was reported by the Russian newspaper “Vedomosti”. It generated a great deal of interest in media sources around the world.
Authenticity of the hacked documents was confirmed by many experts, but unfortunately all the credits of Ukrainian hackers were given to different international secret services. Even well regarded foreign expert Mark Galeotti, who in 2014 took the Kremlin “doctrine by Gerasimov” to pieces, doubted that Ukrainian hackers were able to do that. Curiously, some experts explained their doubts using the reason that our analysis of the hacked data from Surkov’s administrative office was published in “perfect English”, as well as in Bulgarian. We want to remind that InformNapalm is an international community, and activists from around the world are involved in our projects. We are glad to get any kind of help and to set up a new language version of the website is a matter of fifteen minutes for us – and then they perform their work depending on their potential and desire. Bulgarian version of the website became one of our most active resources and “fluent English” in the 21st century became common long time ago.
We are happy to hear any information about Ukrainian hackers and the recognition they are given by the international community. Ukrainian IT specialists are among the best ones in the world, and the last 2.5 years of the cyber war with Russia made them true masters.
However, the recognition of the importance of cyber security and protection from digital threats under the new circumstances, imposed by Russia, slowly reached the West too. Not only because of the hacker attacks on German Bundestag and interference in the election process in the USA – according to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, the number of digital attacks on NATO has grown significantly.
According to the German newspaper Die Welt, Stoltenberg said during a meeting in Davos: “According to our up-to-date information, there were 500 dangerous cyberattacks on NATO facilities every month in 2016, which required intensive interference of our experts. It is an approximately 60% increase over 2015. The majority of these attacks were performed not by private individuals but were sponsored by state institutions in other countries … I am extremely concerned about this development. Cyber defence will play an important role at the next NATO summit, and we will need to step up our efforts in this area.”
Potentially cyber attacks are very dangerous as they can compromise energy networks, health care facilities and other critical infrastructure. “They can also harm NATO’s defence capability and the work of our armed forces. At the moment all military activities are based on the transmission of data. So, if that fails, it can cause serious damage”, explained Stoltenberg.
Therefore, cyber attacks of a certain scale can lead to implementation of collective defence under Article 5 of NATO Statute, believes NATO Secretary General.
He also expressed concern about possible data manipulation during election process: “NATO has some documents from different governments of the state members of our alliance in its disposition, and they are concerned that hackers would try to interfere in national election campaigns, undermining democracy”.
For some time now, according to Stoltenberg, NATO has made their crisis teams available to its member states to help them protect their networks from such attacks.
At the present moment, with constantly changing security area and with it becoming more unstable, there is a need of such powerful organisations like NATO. “The Alliance is constantly changing and it is able to adapt to new terms. The world is changing and we are changing together with it – we have been doing it for 70 years now.”
It is obvious for us, that the focus of Russian propaganda recently moved from the USA to Europe, in particular to Germany, the locomotive of the anti-Russian sanctions. More often Kremlin propaganda spreads the false stories trying to drive a wedge between Ukraine and its western partners. Not long time ago our media source also became the victim of such spreading of false information:
Вниманию СМИ и читателей, прошу РЕПОСТ.Против международного разведывательного сообщества #InformNapalm и хактивистов У…
Russian political expert Andrei Piontkovsky back in far 2014 said that Russia understood perfectly well that its military power was not able to compete against NATO and it would be trying to find the ways of conducting of some other kind of war, in particular information war, and first of all would try to influence people’s awareness and their perception of reality.
Ukraine has been facing the real cyber war with Russia for almost three years now, and the West began to understand the severity of this warfare just now. Only in November 2016 European Parliament adopted a resolution, in which it compared Russian media sources to ISIS propaganda, and Facebook blocked RT on its platforms this January.
We have high hopes that western experts will finally come to understanding that during three years of the cyber war, Ukrainian activists and hackers have acquired invaluable experience and are ahead of their Western colleagues in this area of expertise.
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